Since mid-March 2020 MANO has been meeting with member organizations and media arts groups from across Canada to discuss the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. This work includes numerous sub-committees and affinity groups addressing specific issues, the clarification of pay scales for the dissemination of artists work online has been one group. This statement of solidarity frames the beginning of this process, it is a starting point, and will evolve along with our learning.
The COVID-19 pandemic has radically transformed both everyday life and the experience of artworks. For media arts the loss of collective, real life, shared experiences of viewing, listening, feeling has challenged us as artists, collectives, organizations, and audiences. 2020 has been a year in art marked by cancelations and postponements, alongside online festivals and gatherings that have kept connections and built new ones.
It is in this context, of separation, unity, uncertainty, and mutual aid that we issue this statement. For many artists, collectives, and arts organizations postponement and cancelation have created financial crises, as bills and exhibitions are deferred we fear the end of the pause when the pent up demands of work and financial pressures will peak. These pressures are not equally distributed, when we say “we are all in this together”, we are not all speaking of the same “we” or same “this”. Those carrying privilege do not experience a crisis in the same way as those without, and the question of who is prioritised or overlooked in responses and exit plans must be at the centre of our analysis.
In reflexive solidarity we will:
- Prioritize the postponement of presentations over cancelations.
- Work with artists and other stakeholders to determine the appropriateness of online presentation options, and always ensure transparency of terms and the consent of the artist in online presentations.
- Ensure the universal payment of generous artist fees for work presented online, above the minimum standards for offline presentation.
- Work towards all online programming is in compliance with web accessibility standards including the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
- Advocate for access to broadband in all regions of Canada, along with programs to support capital expenses for arts organizations building online capacity.
- Commit to the process of working collaboratively to update existing recommended fee schedules for online presentation, based on current learnings from the COVID crisis in collaboration with stakeholders across the Canadian media and visual arts sectors.
This statement of solidarity aims to highlight and strengthen the rich media arts ecology, supporting and advocating on behalf of the value and rights of artists. As the media arts sector continues to experiment with routes through the current crisis, we will remain committed to continually improving our ways of working and being together.